BNU: 10 percent of nurses without insurance

BNU: 10 percent of nurses without insurance
Amancha Williams, Bahamas Nurses Union(BNU) President led a protest earlier this year over outstanding overtime payments and other issues. (file photo)

Williams calls on govt. to appoint six more nurses on COVID-19 frontlines

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Approximately 10 percent of nurses do not have medical insurance, a grave concern for the bargaining unit that represents these healthcare providers on the frontline of the COVID-19 fight.

According to Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) President Amancha Williams, an additional six nurses have been waiting nearly a year to receive their letters of appointment.

She called on the government to intervene on both matters as nurses work “previously” to aid in the fight against the local spread of the potentially deadly virus.

Nurses who have not received letters of appointment receive a stipend.

The union president said those funds just about cover the rent of these nurses, some of whom are single mothers.

“If you make a statement to the world that you are about to compensate the nurses, and raise the life insurance to so much, why is it that it is not put in documents and detailed to the relevant people,” Williams told Eyewitness News.

“Nothing is black and white that we have seen to the union to say ‘we have seen your recommendation; we have now detailed a letter to you to let you know that as long as the nurses works, the nurses will be compensated and this is how they will be compensated’.

“We have to see that black and white.

“For me as a president, I feel terrible that I am calling the minister and I am calling the Department of Public Health on when are the appointment letters going to be dealt with for these nurses,” she said.

“You know [some] of my nurses don’t have health insurance, but they are frontline.

“How can we rectify this problem is this time?

“Up to today, I have not received a call to say Ms. Williams, the nurses have been appointed

“I know there is a time, but this is my portfolio and while they are out there working and safeguarding the country, they have to have someone looking after them.

When contacted, Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands said: “The prime minister has made it clear that all would be appointed immediately and they will. If there are legitimate deficiencies, then that can add a day or two to immediately.”

There have been 24 cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas, including the death of a Bimini resident.

Among them is a 72-year-old healthcare worker, who has been hospitalized and was reportedly placed in Intensive Care yesterday.

Williams said nurses who have to concentrate on the needs of patients and the public amid this pandemic, should not also have to worry themselves about “how their household is going to be run if something happens to them in a life situation”.

“You’re fighting three battles at once,” she said. “That is why the union is there and people have to understand the importance.

“My nurses are out there willing to risk their lives. Everybody who is quarantined presently is risking their lives for the country.

“Everyone who is going to work is risking their lives.

“At the end of the day, in appreciation of your nurses, you must put it in black and white.

“You cannot keep going on air and telling everyone that the nurses straight when there is nothing written.”

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis revealed yesterday that 50 nurses were in quarantine due to potential exposure.

Recognizing their hard work, “stress and anxiety”, the prime minister thanked healthcare workers throughout the country.